News Roundup for December 10, 2020

December 10, 2020

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J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street’s positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

Top News and Analysis

Top House Democrats urge Biden to go back into Iran deal without preconditions, JTA
Influential U.S. House of Representatives Democrats, including one who has for years been close to the center-right pro-Israel community, are backing president-elect Joe Biden’s plan to reenter the Iran nuclear deal — without any new conditions on the country […] “We strongly endorse your call for Iran to return to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States to rejoin the agreement, and subsequent follow-on negotiations,” says the letter. It is being circulated by three Democrats who galvanized their colleagues to support the deal in 2015: Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, David Price of North Carolina and Barbara Lee of California. The intended effect of the letter, which the lawmakers hope will draw the support of most of the Democratic caucus, is to reassure Biden that he can leap back into the deal without fear of pushback, at least in the House.

Polls show Sa’ar at 15-18 seats, remaking map and possibly unseating Netanyahu, Times of Israel
A day after he announced his departure from Likud and the formation of a new political party to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the country’s leadership, Gideon Sa’ar was off to an extraordinarily strong start Wednesday. Polls on Israel’s three major news networks forecast his nascent New Hope party getting between 15 and 18 seats if the country goes to elections — shaking up the political landscape and introducing several potential paths to coalitions that do not include Netanyahu, while seriously narrowing the premier’s path to leading the next government.

Senate vote fails to thwart $23B arms package to UAE, Responsible Statecraft
Kelley Beaucar Vlahos and Matthew Petti write, “A sale of $23 billion worth of advanced U.S. fighter jets, drones, and bombs to the Emiratis would further enmesh the United States in the region, countering efforts to disengage after years of perpetual war and political tensions that have ultimately not made the United States any safer.”


Amnesty criticises Airbnb for West Bank settlement listings ahead of IPO, Reuters
Amnesty International accused Airbnb of acting in bad faith towards investors ahead of its stock market debut on Thursday by failing to inform them of its politically sensitive business activities in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Ministers set to okay Hanukkah virus rules as daily cases again top 1,800, Times of Israel
Israel’s daily coronavirus infection rate surpassed 1,800 on Wednesday, the Health Ministry said Thursday morning, as the cabinet was set to convene to approve fresh restrictions for the eight-day Hanukkah holiday.

The Jewish Community of Georgia Could Decide Who Controls the Senate, Haaretz
Jewish voters can play a major role in helping Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock get elected in Georgia’s Senate runoff elections next month, Jewish party members and community leaders were told on Tuesday.

Netanyahu jumps to the front of the vaccine line, says he wants to boost Israeli confidence, Washington Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday he would be the first in Israel to be inoculated against the coronavirus, pledging to get the shot as soon as Pfizer’s newly developed vaccine receives final approval by U.S. and Israeli regulators.

The Knesset Is Set to Dissolve in Two Weeks. Netanyahu Plans to Spend the Day in the UAE, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing for early elections and and is planning his trip to the United Arab Emirates on December 23 – the same day the 2020 state budget expires and the Knesset is expected to dissolve.

Anne Frank memorial in Boise, Idaho, vandalized with swastika stickers, JTA
A statue of Anne Frank in Boise, Idaho, was vandalized with stickers bearing swastikas and the message “We are everywhere.”

Opinion and Analysis

Biden has vowed to quickly restore the Iran nuclear deal, but that may be easier said than done, Washington Post
Joby Warrick and Anne Gearan write, “The Trump administration has imposed new economic sanctions on Iran, each amounting to a fresh barrier to resuming the deal. In Tehran, conservative lawmakers sought this week to place impossible time constraints on Biden, passing legislation requiring Iran to accelerate its production of enriched uranium and kick out U.N. nuclear inspectors if sanctions on the country’s oil and banking sectors are not lifted by early February, about two weeks after Biden’s inauguration.”

Under Biden, the real fight against antisemitism can resume, The Jerusalem Post
Shai Franklin writes, “The incoming Biden administration promises to restore credibility and impact to a full range of human rights priorities, including the international fight against antisemitism. Given the troubling record of the past four years – ignoring or even promoting right-wing antisemitism, using spurious accusations of antisemitism to counter critics – and generally devaluing the principles of human rights and mutual respect at home and abroad – this task, though formidable, is eminently achievable […] Last summer, Trump’s SEAS envoy, Elan Carr, used his official Twitter account to accuse the progressive and US-based J Street of antisemitism because it opposes Israeli plans to annex the West Bank. Aside from the spurious and off-topic charge, State Department officials are supposed to be accountable to US citizens and not vice versa.”

Steering the Biden administration wrong on anti-Semitism, Times of Israel
Kenneth S. Stern writes, “Of all the crucial steps the new government must take to protect Jews, adopting the IHRA definition I drafted is not one of them. Not even close.”

The assassination of an Iranian scientist will make Joe Biden’s job harder, The Guardian
Mohamad Bazzi writes, “The assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, on 27 November, which is likely to have been carried out by Israel, was intended to undermine the possibility of a quick US-Iran detente once the president-elect, Joe Biden, takes office in January. It’s part of a scorched earth campaign by Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump to make it as difficult as possible for Iran to resume negotiations with the Biden administration and return to the 2015 nuclear agreement.”

Gideon Sa’ar Already Lost to Netanyahu Once. Why Does He Think His New Party Could Change That?, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “The longtime Likudnik’s split from the party isn’t a ‘political earthquake,’ but his departure attests to the changing political landscape on the Israeli right.”